FGI The Great Retail Debate: The Future of Fashion Retail-Brick & Mortar or E-Commerce?

Where else can you do shopping, even at midnight, wearing your pajamas or nothing but a smile and a glass of wine?

Online shopping has given us the opportunity to shop 24/7, from the comfort of home or the convenience of when you’re on-the-go. Meanwhile at malls across the country, prime retail space lies dormant.

So will online fashion retailers mean the demise of physical stores? Is digital the store of the future?

fgi event the great retail debate

Retailers, vendors, and fashionistas alike met to answer those very questions at the Shopify headquarters for “The Great Retail Debate: The Future of Fashion Retail”, a sought-after Fashion Group International (FGI) event that combined the minds of retail pros to discuss whether the future of fashion retail remains in brick & mortar or whether it is heading to e-commerce.

The Fashion Group International hosts events that educate and inform members, promoting the exchange of ideas and common resources within the industry.

A panel made up of Louise Dirks, Owner of gravitypope, Melissa Austria, Owner/Curator of GOTSTYLE: The Menswear Store, Rafe Petkovic, Head of Retail at Google Canada, Sandy Silva, Canadian Fashion and Beauty Industry Analyst at The NPD Group and moderated by Susan McGibbon, Chief Experience Officer at The Retail Lab, brought to the table their unique retail and consumer insight and expert data.

More and more people will tell you they prefer online shopping over the conventional shopping experience, and while this is true, there will always be those who seek a real, visual, tactile experience. In order for fashion retailers to win the attention and wallets of tomorrow’s fashion consumer, they must ultimately know the buyer.

A healthy debate, the panel discussed many topics from the influence of social media on the mobile millennial (is social media a shopping tool or a communication tool?), to the use of tech in stores, and how the Internet has led to a more engaged consumer.
Rafe Petkovic, Head of Retail at Google Canada described a much more purposeful visitor who enters a store having educated themselves on the store’s website, or shopped around for the best available price. A determining factor for 79% of millennials according to Sandy Silva, Canadian Fashion and Beauty Industry Analyst at The Retail Lab.

Those on the panel and those in attendance were in agreement that while it’s been a challenging few years for retailers in Canada, those who are doing their homework and are open to adapting their services and brands to meet the customers’ changing demands are likely to not only survive, but to thrive.

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